Adventures of a father and a photographer. Tales about the mystery and excitement of family travel.

torstai 24. toukokuuta 2018

Candle Night In Tallinn

Each year, on the 25th of March the people of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, light candles on the freedom square to commemorate the victims of the Soviet deportations. Although it was a terrible thing, the candle lit square is a very beautiful sight.

I was able to participate the night the other year. I went there with my camera and my tripod to get some night shots, but I had no idea what was waiting for me.

There were twenty thousand candles lit on the square. They were organized in the shape of the Estonian map. But the candles weren't the most impressive thing that night. When I got out of the tram and entered the square, it was almost totally silent there. There were quite a lot of people there and you'd expect to hear a lot of noise. But, it was almost like at a cemetery on a dark winter night. You could see the people, but you couldn't hear them.

The event was very emotional. I took some photos with my 24mm lens, but couldn't quite capture the feeling. I walked away from the square to find a place to change the lens to my Walimex fisheye. I soon found a park bench I could use as a temporary holder for my equipment.

When I was fiddling with my camera, a man came out from the darkness. He was an elderly man walking slowly. He stopped by me and greeted me with a subtle voice. I greeted him back and told him with my very limited Estonian that I'm a Finn and unfortunately can't speak his language very well.

My lack of language skills didn't seem to bother him. He was starting to tell me how he used to work in Finland as a young man. He compared the Estonians and Finns and how we should really be more close because of our origins. He told me that too often the Estonians don't think too much of the Finnish tourists crowding the old town of Tallinn. I tried to answer him with my poor Estonian and told him that many times the Finns too look the Estonians down their nose and that's wrong. We agreed that this kind of events show us that we really should live as one.

There we were, two strangers from different countries, of different generations, speaking different languages, but still united in front of this beautiful memorial.

Minox Digital Classic Camera Leica M3

I've always had a soft spot for the old Leica cameras. Unfortunately, I don't own one, but I got a miniature model of one by Minox. The factory is famous for it's miniature cameras used in the cold war era. One of them was used in James Bond films, too. The factory created miniature replicas of some of the classic cameras in the history of photography. Mine is a Leica M3.

It's quite a funny little toy. Basically it's a tiny Chinese digital camera with a Minox lens, but it certainly turns heads when you use it in street photography. Attach it to a tripod and you might get a few laughs. The picture quality isn't really that good, but it's really a fun gadget to use. You can even get a replica of a Leica flash for it.

Read more about the little beast here.

You can read more about my fisheye lens I used on the memorial night here.

torstai 17. toukokuuta 2018

All That Jazz

My latest passion is the Lomography photography. For those of you who don't have a clue what I'm talking about, please check out this site. In short: Lomography is something like taking snapshot photos with old film cameras. Or with any photographic equipment. The idea is to get somewhat artistic shots fast, without thinking too much and more important: without too much digital post processing. The name Lomography comes from the old Soviet made Lomo cameras with plastic lenses and overall bad construction. You couldn't get a decent photo out of it, but taking photos with it was extremely fun.

And that's just what Lomography means to me: having fun by taking photos. I've shot for several stock photo agencies for years and technical perfection is very important in stock photos. Also, choosing the right camera body, lenses, flashes, tripods and other gimmicks produces the best results. Not to mention subject, angle, color balance and so on.

With Lomography you can forget all about the technical stuff. And you can leave the shutter speeds and apertures for the camera to decide. The world is full of subjects. You can see wonderful photo stories everywhere. And you don't have to think about the sellability of the photos. Just take a camera you can easily carry around and take the photos.

To me, it's like playing jazz music. You know the rules, but you don't have to obey them. Play freely and have fun. The listeners may not always enjoy the results, but that doesn't really matter. Very liberating!

And Lomography helps with stock photography, too. I've taken lomo shots and noticed that these might work as stock photos, too. Then I've gotten back to the location with my DSLR and taken a more rule-obeying photo.

What equipment do I use when taking these Lomography pictures? Here comes the fun part. I have several film cameras that would suit wonderfully for this kind of purpose. But, I've grown up in the time when film photography was the only photography there was. Developing film and printing the photos was relatively expensive. Every time I heard the shutter click, in my mind I saw money fading away.

That's why I don't use film any more. Unfortunately, that's over for me. So, I use my phone camera instead. To me, the phone cameras are pretty much toys, no matter how many megapixels they have. Usually they have tiny plastic lenses and a very small sensor. They are perfect for lomography, don't you think.

However, the phone cameras tend to sharpen the photos a lot and do all kind of software magic to get the photos look perfect. And I don't want perfect looking photos. So, I use a little app to make the photos look more like lomo photos. There are quite a lot of Lomography apps available, but my favourite is the Retro Camera for Android.

When I told this to my friend, he shook his head and said: So, you have a very expensive camera which could take brilliant photos and you use a piece of software to make the photos look crappy? Yes. That's right. You got the point!

You can see my Lomography photos here and here.

Huawei P10 Smartphone

My current phone is the older flagship of Huawei. It has a twin camera with Leica lenses. It should be pretty impressive. And I admit, I like taking photos with it. The camera is pretty fast, too. It's almost as fast as my EOS 350D. And I've always dreamed of walking in the street with a Leica camera with me like Henri Cartier-Bresson. I wonder what the new flagship, the P20 with triple camera is like.

Read more about the phone here.


torstai 3. toukokuuta 2018

The Good, The Bad And The Obedient

I come from a rural town in the Northern Finland. There aren't too many of us living there. Four cars in the same crossing at the same time is called a traffic jam.

So, you can imagine that driving a car in Australia, in one of the big tourist centers might be a bit of a challenge for me. Not to mention driving on the left side of the road. The navigator's voice kept telling me: Keep left, keep left!

But there we were. Driving a rental car at Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. I must say, it went surprisingly well, although I'm not exactly Dale Earnhardt.

We enjoyed the roads going by the beach. They were reasonably quiet and driving was easy. But the Gold Coast Highway had more lanes than my home town has roads. That's why I was trying to avoid the highway as long as I could.

One day we were coming back from the mall (and what a mall it was! Just about as big as my home town!). We were supposed to drive to the terrible highway, but I decided to cross the highway and drive to our apartment via the quiet streets by the beaches. It would be slower, but far less terrifying.

I managed to choose the right lane for crossing over the highway. When the light turned green (by the way, my home town doesn't have traffic lights),  I zoomed over the twelve lanes of the highway. And success, we got to the other side and I could see the ocean in front of me.

Just when I felt like a winner, I heard a horrifying sound from behind. A siren! I was sure I had made a mistake and now the police was here to get me! And believe me, I had seen the Australian police officers! I didn't want to mess with them!

Sweating, I pulled over. The siren was getting louder and louder. Then, I looked back and saw my son playing with his new fire engine. He had gotten it out of it's box and was trying out the buttons. Never have I been so happy to see a noisy toy truck!

SJCAM SJ4000 Action Camera

This GoPro Hero copy from China proved to be a very handy little action cam on our trip. I'm not exactly Action Man, so GoPros go a bit over my budget. But I decided to take this little toy for a ride. And it did everything I could imagine. I dived into the pool with it, I sunk it to the ocean and the image quality was great for the price. And I can use it back home, because it endures very cold temperatures and snow, too.

The only thing is the low level of the recorded sound. But what can you expect when the camera is well covered with the water-proof housing.

You can read more about the camera here.

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